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THE YEAR OF CUSTOMER DELIGHT | Business Climate | 27



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Much of this progress can be attributed to the League of Women Voters (LWV) and its founder, Carrie Catt. Catt emerged as a force to be reckoned with during the height of women’s suffrage. Six months before the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified, giving women the right to vote, Catt founded the LWV during a convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. After a long and arduous

policy. Even today, the LWV stands by its strictly nonpartisan stance and serves as a source of information transcending petty party politics. They have sponsored presidential debates, produced educational pamphlets, writ-

Before winning the right

to vote or even have their voices heard in formal, public proceedings, women

in America were relegated

encourages informed and active participation of civilians in politics,” said Paula Montgomery, a member of the League and chair of the Education committee. “We tackle problems through studying and research, fol-

to supporting roles at best in American policy. They could schedule meetings and take minutes, but it was considered best that men handled the shaping of



tion, business and more. Thankfully,



quated ideals are long gone and women today wield considerable power in all levels of government and public advocacy.


72-year fight, women finally had the right to vote, but it was quickly realized that they were not as educated as they should be about the American form of government, how bills became laws and how to best have their voice heard by local, state and federal representatives. Thus, the League began as a non-partisan political initiative to help more than 20 million new female voters register and carry out their hard-earned responsibility. The League quickly established itself as a grassroots organization, a national idea with local chapters that would educate voters and influence

ten editorials, sponsored voting guides and more. Throughout the years, the LWV has been known for taking a stand on a myriad of issues, from gerrymandering, international peace, the death penalty, minority vote suppression, contraceptive healthcare coverage, school vouchers, education and the environment. Today, locally, the League takes a strong stand on issues of education and the environment and has dedicated committees committed to educating the public and getting the vote out. “We remain a non-partisan political organization that

lowed by action.” The League has long emphasized the need for extensive research and information gathering before taking a stand on issues and rallying supporters behind a cause. “We, of course, provide voter registration, hold public candidate forums, provide presentations on local and| |Business BusinessClimate Climate| |29 29

state governmental issues, and address social and educational issues and concerns,” said Mary Gutierrez, local co-president and chair of the Natural Resource and Growth Management Committee. “I think people come to us as a source of political information because of our long standing reputation of studying each issue extensively.” When they finally do have a sufficient amount of information, they go to legislators, work with the media, organize

partnership with other organizations for numerous events throughout the year,” said Gutierrez. The organization is not made of strictly women, though the name may imply that. Shortly after its inception, the LWV began admitting male members in order to be all-inclusive. As such, the League often features speakers, both male and female, who hold a lofty position in the city or county and finds an audience with politicians which of course affects their self-esteem and standing in future classes.” Recently, the statewide League did a study of big charter schools, publicly funded independent institutions established by teachers, parents or community groups under the terms of a charter. The subject has been long debated concerning their efficacy and whether they should receive public dollars. “We have a report on that

events and more. “We balance being nonpartisan with being highly political,” said Montgomery. The LWV gives its member a range of other outlets for public advocacy and meaningful networking, too. “We positively impact the community by being actively engaged with our outreach and education efforts through monthly program meetings, hot topic luncheons, and 30||Business BusinessClimate Climate|| 30

and activists from a number of backgrounds. Each committee tackles its respective concerns. Recently, the Education Committee conducted a study of third-grade reading tests and whether they are an accurate judgment of how well schools are doing and whether kids should be held back on account of the exam. “If you didn’t make a certain amount of points [on the test,] you were held back, but the system didn’t look at if they had been held back before,” said Montgomery. “As such, kids were getting held back multiple times,

that is several pages long,” said Montgomery. “We found that charter schools do not perform better than equivalent public schools. In South Florida, for example, too many legislators have financial interests in charter schools and therefore push legislation that favors those schools. We have the report because an educated electorate is necessary to a good democracy.” One of the League’s goals is to create a groundswell

Business Climate SPECIAL SECTION

reaction to reports like this one so that voters will respond, instead of having to wait on state or federal government to figure it out themselves. On Feb. 2, the main Pensacola library downtown will host the Escambia and Santa Rosa superintendents to discuss the state of local education. At the event, League staff will show the documentary Rise Above the Mark at 5:30 pm before welcoming remarks from the elected officials and citizens. “We’re hoping that this local groundswell of interest and energy will work to benefit the school system,” said Montgomery. The Natural Resource and Growth Management Committee, an environmental arm of the LWV, has worked extensively with Councilwoman Sherri Myers and Pensacola 350, an environment and climate change advocacy group. “Some of the [other] items the committee is currently engaged in are the effects of

Photo: Zach Alexander

plastic bags within our aquatic systems, the negative environmental and human health impacts associated with deep well injection and hydraulic fracturing,” said Gutierrez. “We have been involved and are continuing to monitor the military proposed use of the Blackwater State Forest, seagrass dredging associated with Santa Rosa Shores, storm water concerns, and Escambia County’s land use development changes.” Statewide, the League is involved in lawsuits concerning district gerrymandering and the legality of school vouchers. The League hosts monthly programs that are open to everyone the third Saturday of each month at the Tryon branch library at 10 am. Those wishing to join pay just $55 in dues, $27.50 for students enrolled in a certificate or degree program. ‘There are always issues of interest and we get great speakers,” said Montgomery. “Upcoming speakers include John Clark with the Council on Aging and Rosemary Hayes-Thomas, speaking on women’s history and genderbased earning disparity.” Standing committees have other meeting times and can be found on the League’s local website,

Photo: Natalie Maynor || Business Business Climate Climate || 31 31

32 | Business Climate |




JAN. 1 OF THIS YEAR. On that date, an automatic increase of 12 cents per hour, calculated annually according to the federal Consumer Price Index, went into effect, boosting the state’s minimum wage from $7.93 to $8.05. For tipped employees, wages increased from $4.91 to $5.03. For minimum wage workers, this increase amounts to $4.80 every 40

workers and perhaps less than gratuitous profits for the company, organizational leadership often looks at technology-based innovations to replace workers, even though the investment may be more expensive up front. “So what ends up happening is people get laid off in favor

hours and $249.60 a year. While this increase may seem trivial, the increase always sparks debate and passionate outcries on either side.




labor,” said Harper. “Most mini-

Florida is currently ahead of the fed-

use alternative, cheaper forms of input,

mum wage workers do get to keep

eral minimum wage of $7.25—which

which leads to innovation and substitu-

their jobs, and that’s great for them, but

has not been increased since 2009—but

tion possibilities.”

there are a minority that get replaced.

far below the $10.10 pitch made by

Harper explained that, at a place like

Businesses are always looking to keep

President Obama as part of his 2010

McDonald’s, which relies on minimum

their labor costs down. As labor costs go

State of the Union address, and far,

wage workers for a bulk of their labor

up, it’s going to become more attractive

far below countries like Australia and

force, a higher wage often causes oppo-

to economize the use of labor.”

France that boast wage minimums of

site of the intended effect. While many

It is the people who don’t have a job,

over $12.

hope that a higher minimum wage will

and are having a hard time getting a job—

mean greater economic prosperity for

often the young and minorities—who

The United States began the minimum wage as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which has increased 22 times under 12 presidents and is enforced by the Department of Labor. According to economic policy leaders in the nation, minimum wage should be $18.28 to keep pace with labor productivity. However, that presents a whole range of problems. Today, a number of alternatives to the minimum wage have been presented to mitigate the damaging effects of increasing the burden on businesses. “A higher wage is obviously a good thing for that minimum wage worker, but it is often disadvantageous for businesses, which are always working to keep input costs under control and maximize output,” said Dr. Rick Harper, executive director of the University of West Florida Office of Economic Development and Opportunity. “Enacting a higher minimum wage incentivizes businesses to 34| |Business BusinessClimate Climate| | 34


Business Climate SPECIAL SECTION

are most adversely impacted by a minimum wage increase. Innovations in the field often price them out of the job, which means less entry-level workers. This of course leads to a cyclic, systemic problem of a skill-less labor market. “Those people are going to





“Unskilled workers are priced out of the market.” And




wage affects different parts of the state differently. For example, in Miami, where land is

Photo courtesy: The All-Nite Images

scarce, the minimum wage is 11 percent higher than the national average, yet not many workers are affected because prices are lower. In Pensacola, the effect of a higher minimum wage would be more immediate and more negative, according to Harper. “The effects, good and bad, differ by sector more than the size of the business,” said Harper. “Obviously, a region highly dependent on service and food industries is going to see more the effects than a technology sector.” A higher minimum wage is not all bad, though. Those with low wages tend to spend their money right away, which boosts the economy. While the wealthy tend to save more, poor workers do not have that luxury, and their increase gets put back into the system almost immediately. But Harper fears that the positive effects do not outweigh the long-

term negative effects.

But there is another way.

sector businesses to the United States

“A nation as wealthy as America

Treasury. Right now, about one out of

should still be able to have a class of

five people, or 28 million taxpayers,

working poor that can put food on the

receive the credit.

table, but the answer is not via increas-

“When the minimum wage is lower,

ing the minimum wage,” said Harper.

that encourages employment because it

“The earned income tax credit is a more

makes workers affordable,” said Harper.

economically viable option that is bet-

“If we can favor a lower amount while

ter for both sides of the equation—the

increasing the maximum amount one

worker and the employer. It mitigates

can receive on the EITC, that’s helpful

the negative effects of a high minimum

for everyone.”

wage.” The

When the minimum wage goes up, Earned




companies respond not by cutting the

(EITC) is a refundable tax credit for low

wages of presidents and CEOs, but by

to moderate income working people;

passing the price on to the consumer.

essentially, it gives people’s money

“A company that is often hated for

back to them. Right now, the amount

this is Walmart, which relies on both

of the EITC depends on the recipient’s

low-income workers and shoppers,”

income and number of children. By

said Harper. “They respond to higher

increasing the EITC and extending it to

wages by raising the prices of the goods

those who do not have children, Harper

they sell. They do this, though, because

believes the burden of supplementing

investors only want companies with a

low wages can transfer from private

high profit margin. Thus, in a case like



Walmart, their profits continue to soar while their workers and shoppers are disadvantaged.”


7.00 6.00 5.00 4.00


They cannot necessarily be blamed


for this. It is simple economics. Instead


of working against the laws of economics, Harper said, it is better to lean into









them and put them to work for the




1998 2003

2008 2013


working poor. “An expanded EITC does just that,” 25000

said Harper. “It does a better job of



increasing equity. The Treasury sends a debit card with money on it or make


direct deposits into an individual’s bank sury, so the taxpayers are footing the bill, not businesses that employ people. This keeps costs at businesses low while giving more individuals more buying power.”


account. This is coming from the trea15000


The data shows that this makes a measurable impact, too. When individu-


als receive one large, lump-EITC sum at the beginning of each year, they spend it







1986 1989 1992



1974 1977 1980







1947 1950


the year, poor families can be sustained


short-lived. By spreading it throughout


quickly and the effects are powerful but

Courtesy of Oregon State University and the U.S. Bureau of the Census.

for longer and the businesses they shop at benefit, thus enabling them to hire

There have also recently been reports of

put food on their table. They deserve to

more workers to keep up with demand.

EITC fraud, bogus claims, and errors in

not live in systemic poverty their whole

the billions of dollars.

lives. The best way to do that is to imple-

And it seems to work, too. Sixty percent of those who get the benefit stop claiming it after just two years.

“The real issue is that people don’t

ment policy that doesn’t put the burden

understand the effects of both sides,”

on businesses that employ these very

The issue is very political, though.

said Harper. “These people, the people

people, but on those who can actually

Some support an expanded EITC while

who get up and go to work, especially

afford it.”

others cry redistribution of wealth.

the young and minorities, deserve to

36 36| |Business BusinessClimate Climate| |






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38 | Business Climate |

Business Climate SPECIAL SECTION


ate last year, the Greater Pensacola Chamber Board of Directors announced that Clay Ingram had been elected to serve as the Chamber’s new president & CEO. Ingram, who was unanimously voted by the Board to oversee all operational aspects of the Chamber, began his new role on Jan. 5. “Clay brings energy, leadership, a unique perspective and highly developed skillsets important to this role and our organization. We are thrilled to have him serve as the Chamber’s next president and CEO,” said Carol Carlan, chair of the Greater Pensacola Chamber Board of Directors. “His understanding of small business development, finance and the importance of regional partnerships will be a tremendous asset that will allow us to continue serving the Northwest Florida business community.” Ingram currently serves as a member

Meet The New Boss The Greater Pensacola Chamber’s new president is a recognizable figurehead in the community, a favorite of the Board of Directors and among the youngest presidents in the organization’s history. He’s also a state rep. So what’s the plan? By Josh Newby of the Florida House of Representatives, representing the 1st District - which includes most of Escambia County and previously, the State’s 2nd District from 2010 to 2012. “Over the course of this year, the Chamber has repositioned itself to create a better business climate in the Greater Pensacola Region,” said Ingram. “I am excited to lead a team that is dedicated to maintaining economic prosperity

and a better quality of life for those that choose to live and do business in this community.” Prior to being elected to the Legislature, Ingram worked in sales, real estate and served as a teacher in the Escambia County School District, where he taught courses in the Exceptional Student Education Department at J.M. Tate High School. “It has been an honor and privilege to lead the Chamber,

and I couldn’t be more proud of what this organization has accomplished over the past year and a half,” said former Pensacola Mayor and current Chamber President & CEO Jerry Maygarden. “In addition to serving as the executive director for the Pensacola Chamber Foundation, I will continue to serve as an advisor to both Clay and the Board for as long as I am needed.” A Pensacola native, Ingram is

a graduate of J.M. Tate High School and Florida State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in general communication, with a minor in political science. An active member of the community, he is a member of St. Luke United Methodist Church, the Cantonment Rotary Club, Century Chamber of Commerce and serves as a board member for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Florida and the Florida State University Alumni Association. Business Climate sat down with Ingram to gauge his excitement, understand his plans for the future, and make sense of balancing his obligations as servant of the public and president of a private organization.

How did you become interested in the job? I read about Jerry [Maygarden] leaving the president/CEO position to take over the Foundation. He had served as a legislator and I think that, knowing my personality and my strengths, I would be a strong fit for the job. The first thing he did was go through the play-by-play of the reorganization. I think he knew that if things were the way they had been, it would’ve been a stretch and there would’ve been some conflicts. So once he went through the reorganization in detail and explained how he had divested of economic development and tourism and the fact that the parent organization was no longer taking any public money, that was something that was attractive then. So I realized that, yes, I would be interested after understanding all that. How do you foresee navigating your two roles as a legislator and now as a president/CEO of a chamber? I knew it was possible. Incoming Senate president Andy Gardiner had this role for a number of years at | Business Climate | 39

one of the chambers in the Orlando area. One of my current colleagues, Jason Brodeur, has a position like this at the Seminole County region chamber, so my first call was to him. He said, “It’s absolutely doable. I’ve not only been able to do the job during the Legislative Session, but the organization thrives. There’s so much advocacy that would go on and reasons to be in Tallahassee.” Plus, you can do video conferencing and with technology you can do so much. So that gave me a level of comfort that it could be done and be done well, and that neither role would suffer. Obviously you have a constituency here in Escambia County as a representative. But now you also have a membership to look after. How would you approach the situation if those two ideas/groups were ever in conflict? First of all, the political position I take is always pro-business, so I think there are very few instances where there would be conflict. He’s (Brodeur) had it happen a couple times. It’s something he’s had to navigate and see what

happens. When the Board of Directors, for example, might approve something that he opposes politically, he realizes that his employer sees things one way and his political bent may be another way, but he separates those two. For instance, there was a local tax issue he told me about that the Board

and something that I feel I’m good at. During the majority of Gardiner’s Senate career, he was also a chamber president, so that gives me confidence that I can do it too. How will you handle the chamber position when the Legislature is in session?

We’ve got to develop that quality of life. We’ve got to make the place attractive for our talent. And of course we have to have somewhere for them to work. decided to take a pro-position on— and he was against it—but he had to do what his boss asked him to do. Separating the two roles is definitely important But according to him, there’s been only one case where there was really a conflict. Do you foresee yourself continuing to pursue political office after your current term is up? Yes. The Legislature has such a strange dynamic, and when you have the skillset to be effective as a legislator, it’s something you want to stay with. I can pass bills and build consensus. It’s something I enjoy

40 40| |Business BusinessClimate Climate| |

The travel goes in such spurts from January to early May. March and April are the really heavy months. I’ll have to schedule bi-weekly calls, be responsive to emails, and of course make myself available via video conferencing and meet with whomever I may need to back home. Another positive is that business is generally handled Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, so it’s not like you’re gone all day everyday for two months. Encapsulate your vision for the Greater Pensacola Chamber. I’ve been thinking about my plan and it’s something I’m working on now.

I’d like to see an uptick in partnership relatively soon. That will only occur in a sustainable way if it’s obvious to the community that we’ve made that switch seriously to be focused on the community and community building. Creating that atmosphere for small- and mediumsized businesses to feel confident about expanding and hiring is important. After some conversations with Jerry and KC [Etheridge], we’ve found some preliminary things we can do. Just for example, to tackle the uncertainty that comes along with the Affordable Care Act, if you’re a smallto medium-sized business without an

HR or legal department, that’s probably something that’s hanging over your head. So that’s something the chamber can step up to and hold seminars and information sessions about to help small businesses in a very tangible way. If our focus is on helping, then the partnership issues take care of themselves. We need to focus on us as a community, and hopefully that perception change will be quite tangible. Years ago, the chamber’s image really suffered and membership dropped. Recently, there have been steps to turn that around. How will you

continue to turn that around? I think that personality-wise, that was a skill set that Jerry saw in me, that I would project that attitude change. Just knowing my personality and the way I’ve handled my legislative career, I think that’ll be something I’ll be strong at—being the personification of that shift. I believe in the new structure. This image shift wouldn’t have been possible before. The organization went from taking so much public money and being responsible for that to now being community focused. What do you is the chamber’s strongest asset right now, that you’ve seen? The staff. I was in a unique position to see the staff work at certain events. And that staff is significantly paired down from | Business Climate | 41

college were involved in developing the Six Pillars plan. I’ve seen it play out in Tallahassee and how it has an impact on statewide policy and politics. If I was going to pick something off the shelf to implement, I think that’s a good way to go about community building.

The political position I take is always probusiness, so I think there are very few instances where there would be conflict. what it was. So to have survived that, you must be doing something right. The staff is a definite strength. What do you believe the chamber could improve upon? That’s one of those questions I’ll have to ask myself. I’ll have conversations with partners and partners who have walked away to really gauge the specifics. I think

we can find some businesses that would’ve joined and maybe never did because of the way things were run. We have to really find out what was missing before, why they didn’t see the value of partnership before, and find out what we can really do to make it valuable for them. How do you balance partner betterment with the needs of community

members who may not be in your membership base? I think they’ll go hand-in-hand. Another key part of the new chamber mission is retaining talent. Keeping those people who are qualified workers and professionals after they graduate is important. That’s important to the business community. You’ve got to have somewhere for those people to work, too. They may want to

stay, but what if they don’t have a job? It’s very circular. Each portion depends on the other. We’ve got to develop that quality of life. We’ve got to make the place attractive for our talent. And of course we have to have somewhere for them to work. So that’s why we have to make our business climate here attractive to smalland medium-sized businesses. You hear the stat all the time, that 80 percent of

your growth is going to come from small businesses. That’s another reason I’m so glad our focus is back on us as a community, rather than solely on attracting people here. That’s vastly important, but so is our community. How do you feel about the chamber’s recently announced Six Pillars plan? Some of my professors from

How do you feel about partnering with area chambers? It’s essential to have everyone working toward a common goal of some sort, even if it’s just that commitment to get along. Reaching out to the surrounding chambers is something I plan to do very early on. Anything else you’d like to add? I’m very excited to serve the people of Escambia County in Tallahassee as a legislator and back here at home as a president of the chamber and advocate for their needs. All aspects of this position I’m in are exciting to me and I’m highly motivated.

On the issues Economy & Jobs: “As Florida’s economy continues to improve, we must keep government out of the private sector and allow our businesses to grow.” Education: “As a former public school teacher, I know that education is our greatest economic engine.” 42 42| |Business BusinessClimate Climate| | | Business Climate | 43

around the region

Investment in education critical to attract new jobs By Rick Harper Job growth and job quality are important issues for any community. Together, they determine economic living standards and figure prominently into quality of life. Today’s jobs market is substantially different from that of just a few decades ago. People today move less often for jobs, so that interstate mobility for families has actually declined over time. Some of this change in migration rates is demographic, as the baby boomers are now well entrenched in communities across the nation and don’t seem to have much inclination to move for retirement. The children of the baby boomers, called the millennial generation, have not yet become the geographic nomads that their parents were. At least part of this is due to diminished job prospects in the new economy. These migration trends place the onus on communities to improve the workforces they have now. The challenge we face in Northwest Florida is to raise the skills and training of the workforce so that higher-wage businesses find us to be a great location to move or expand. Some of this is happening today, as we have had a number of good expansion announcements by firms providing high quality jobs. But there is still much more to do. Current trends look set to continue into the future. EMSI, a national employment analysis and forecasting firm, projects that Pensacola’s cumulative job growth over the 2014 to 2024 period will be 11,682 jobs, or about 7 percent of its present workforce. This is lower than the 11.1 percent projected for the nation, and the 11.4 percent projected for Florida. However, it should be noted that the Pensacola area has beaten growth projections in recent months. The skills used by a worker are the biggest contributor to higher wages. The returns to education have increased, and the income distribution has widened. Taken together, these factors mean that labor force matters today more than it ever has in determining economic opportunity for communities. What can be seen is that occupations calling for higher educational attainment pay more. It is also clear that more than two-thirds of the jobs in our local economy call for no more than a high school degree. Those jobs are projected to account for slightly less than two-thirds of total job growth over the next decade. The top four occupations that require less than a high school degree are retail salesperson, food prep, cashier and waiter/waitress. Together they account for about 22,547 jobs today and are the four most abundant jobs in the local economy. They are expected to generate about 1,360 of the local economy’s job growth over the next decade, or about 11 percent of total growth. All four have median hourly earnings of between $8.72 and $9.95. Registered nurse is far and away the most abundant job requiring an associate degree, and jobs for nurses are projected to grow by 250 over the next decade. RNs have median hourly earnings of almost $26. Teachers and managers are the most common occupations for bachelor’s degree graduates, and hourly wages in those occupations range from $24 to $48 per hour, although substitute teachers earn less. Forecasts are extrapolations – they are based on the premise that the future will resemble the past. Pensacola’s future is expected to skew towards more jobs serving the tourist population and the retiree population, and those jobs tend to rank lower on the income ladder. What can be seen in these projections is that about 70 percent of our projected job growth is in occupations paying less than today’s average wage.

44 | Business Climate |

UWF College of Business to host second annual Women in Leadership Conference The University of West Florida College of Business Executive Mentor Program will host the second annual Women in Leadership: Designing Your Future Conference on Friday, Feb. 13 from 11 am to 5 pm in the UWF Conference Center on the main Pensacola campus. The conference will feature thought-provoking session presentations and panel discussions from recognized industry leaders. Attendees will gain knowledge about the importance of building and protecting your personal brand; learn how communication skills can be a pathway to career success; gain an understanding of some of the issues that women face in various career paths; and understand how important it is to align personal values with leadership behaviors. Keynote speaker Dr. Martha Saunders serves as the University’s executive vice president and provost. The full list of speakers will be released in January 2015. Attendees will have the opportunity to strengthen their network with successful women including UWF alumnae and community leaders and hear candid advice about how to navigate the business world and succeed in their careers. “We are happy to bring this conference back next year by popular demand,” said Sherry Hartnett, Conference Chair. “Attendees will have an incredible opportunity to not only hear and learn from nationally recognized experts, but also to develop skills that foster personal and professional growth and will help them design their future.” The UWF College of Business Executive Mentor Program matches students from the University with influential community business leaders who share their personal and professional experience, knowledge and skills. The one-on-one mentor relationship allows for individual attention to the student mentees’ career aspirations, professional development and networking needs. The access to local business leaders provides students with an inside track for full-time, post-graduate employment. The conference is free and open to the public. Registration is required at

Business Climate SPECIAL SECTION

Pensacola Bay Area restaurants shine in Florida Trend Golden Spoon Awards Four Pensacola restaurants have been awarded the coveted Golden Spoon Award, an honor created by Florida Trend magazine 40 years ago to recognize the state’s best places to dine. Two of them were also named to the Golden Spoon Hall of Fame, an elite list reserved for restaurants that have earned repeated Golden Spoons. Pensacola led all of northwest Florida in the number of awards received in a market. Jackson’s Steakhouse, McGuire’s, Global Grill and new entrant Restaurant IRON each received a Golden Spoon Award. McGuire’s and Jackson’s were also named to the Golden Spoon Hall of Fame—a repeat performance for each. Florida Trend’s Golden Spoons are awarded annually to just 100 or so of the thousands of restaurants in Florida, recognizing individual achievement and distinctive contributions to the Florida restaurant scene. “This is a prestigious recognition for the entire Pensacola Bay area,” said Collier Merrill, co-owner of Jackson’s in downtown Pensacola. “We look forward to continuing the tradition of great food and service in the heart of historic downtown Pensacola.”

Northwest Florida unemployment drop ends the year Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, and Walton counties all ended 2015 with among the best unemployment rates in the state. Walton County’s unemployment rate dropped from 3.9 percent in October to 3.8 percent last month, which is the second lowest unemployment rate in the state. Only Monroe County’s had a lower unemployment rate with 3.5 percent. Okaloosa County followed with the third lowest unemployment rate in the state at 4.4 percent. That’s down slightly from the county’s October rate of 4.5 percent. Santa Rosa County tied with four other counties for the 11th lowest unemployment rate in the state at 5.1 percent. Santa Rosa’s October rate had been 5.3 percent.

around the region

Medical Center Clinic welcomes two new staff members Medical Center Clinic welcomed Erin Woolen, PA-C, and Sarah Hogan, ARNP-C, to the Gastroenterology Center. The Gastroenterology Center provides modern diagnostic and therapeutic assessment of diseases of the digestive system including the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, liver, pancreas, and biliary tract.

Pensacola instructor wins National Master teaching award Fortis Institute’s Christine Sproles, MSN, RN, has been named recipient of the 2015 Elsevier/ABHES Master Teacher Award, a distinguished honor that recognizes best practices in healthcare career education. Presented by Elsevier, a leading publisher of medical and scientific literature, and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES), the award is being given to Sproles for her winning practices and dedication to health education excellence. Sproles brings to her students more than 20 years of experience in an area nursing program as well as an abiding love for her job. Among her first actions after moving into nursing education was identifying the need for many novice students to improve their motivation and morale. She began sending them weekly emails that ranged from encouragement and inspirational quotes to interesting facts about nursing – a practice she continues to this date.

ECUA trash and recycling extends to Santa Rosa County Beginning Jan. 2, the Emerald Coast Utility Authority started waste and recycling collections in north Santa Rosa County. The action was approved in November 2014 by the ECUA and Santa Rosa County Commission. The ECUA bid on the contract beat competing bids by Waste Management and Waste Pro. Anyone signing up will receive a 95 gallon garbage can and/or a same-sized can for recycling. Although recycling pickup is available for all customers, the county commission agreed to ECUA’s idea to provide recycling containers only upon request.

ProHealth welcomes change in 2015 ProHealth has changed the name of ProClinic in Gulf Breeze and Pensacola to ProHealth Medical Care. They are moving the Pensacola location from 3101 N. 12th Avenue to 1100 Airport Boulevard, Suite B. Doors open on January 5th, 2015 at 8 am and Pensacola Chamber of Commerce will host a ribbon cutting, open to the public, on January 14th at 11:30 am. | Business Climate | 45

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In 2015, Rewire Your Culture Around Service—and Fix Your Toughest Problems Once and for All by Ron Kaufman


or years you’ve tried to improve your customer service. You’ve trained and trained (burning through too many initiatives to count), but the results never seem to stick. You might see a surge of improvement with each new initiative—just enough to make you think you’ve finally figured it out—but something happens and you slide back to mediocrity. That, or your results are hit and miss—you get great customer feedback about one department, while another’s scores flatline or even sink. Either way, you’re sick of reinventing yourself. Morale has never been lower (it’s right down there with your profits), and frankly, you doubt your exhausted employees have the wherewithal to learn a new set of scripts and processes. So when Ron Kaufman suggests making 2015 the year you hardwire uplifting service into your culture, you might be tempted to shrug him off. That would be a huge mistake. “Great service is not about memorizing scripts, following a certain sequence of steps,” says Kaufman. “It is about changing hearts, minds, attitudes. It’s about infusing the genuine—not feigned, genuine—desire to continuously improve service into the very fabric of your culture.”

Once you hardwire your culture this way, Kaufman insists, you’ll see a huge leap in customer delight. Best of all, the results won’t fade away. Why? Because truly serving others is a two-way street. You can’t bring joy to customers without also bringing joy to employees—and joyful employees want to keep doing what they’re doing. “When you align your culture around the intention to uplift and inspire others, so many of the other problems you have fix themselves,” he says. “Employees get engaged and innovative. They stop the infighting and pull together. Customers keep coming back and bring others with them. Turnover goes down. Profits go up. Service really is that elusive magic bullet.” This is a revolution, and like all revolutions, it has to begin with leaders. That’s why, if you want to make 2015 the year you make the leap, you must commit to Kaufman’s Seven Rules of Service Leadership: Rule 1: Declare service a top priority. “Declaration is so powerful,” says Kaufman. “It’s a human linguistic act that creates a new possibility or a new situation. A nation declares itself independent. A judge declares a person innocent or guilty.

JFK declares that America will put a man on the moon. These declarations set real change in motion; they change the course of human lives. See the difference between them and the meaningless slogans many leaders spout?” Kaufman likes to tell the story of NTUC Income in Singapore. Back in 2007 the company wasn’t failing but it was perceived as “traditional and conservative.” So when new CEO Mr. Tan Suee Chieh came on board, he set out to revitalize its image. He boldly and publicly declared that uplifting service was now a top priority in his plans for “revolution.” He then ran his declaration as a full-page ad in the local paper. Within three years, NTUC had achieved the highest industry levels of customer satisfaction in the country, had dramatically changed the market’s perception of the brand, and had increased market share to the number one position in key segments. Consider other companies known for their consistently high-quality service, organizations that have built profitable and enduring reputations: Nordstrom, Disney, Southwest Airlines, Singapore Airlines, The Ritz-Carlton, and more recently, Zappos. The leaders of these companies consistently declare service a top priority and are vigorous in delivering on that || Business Business Climate Climate || 47 47

promise. “You can declare service a top priority by putting it first on the agenda,” says Kaufman. “You can declare service as a top priority to your customers and your colleagues in your speaking, writing, meetings, advertising, websites, newsletters, tweets, blog posts, updates, video clips, workshops, and daily actions. The message to everyone is clear: Procedures and budgets surely count, but creating value for others counts the most.” Rule 2: Be a great role model. A senior executive from Matsushita Electric (now Panasonic Corporation) was visiting one of the company’s manufacturing plants overseas. Employees had even rolled out a red carpet for the occasion. In the middle of the inspection, the executive walked slowly but deliberately off the carpet toward one of the factory’s largest machines. Seven hundred workers watched in amazement as he bent down, reached under the machine, picked up a paperclip, and tucked it into his suit pocket. Then the executive quietly returned to the red carpet and continued the factory tour. “The executive could have asked someone else to pick up the paperclip,” Kaufman points out. “He could have scolded, instructed, and sent out a memo, but he didn’t. He simply modeled an expectation, and right away, everyone in that factory had an amazingly higher standard for maintaining cleanliness in the plant. The message of this action resonated for years. “Leaders are the people who others choose to follow, not those who simply tell other people what to do,” he adds. “That senior executive promoted that high standard with his own actions and that’s why it resonated with his people.” Rule 3: Promote a common service language. Language helps us create the world in which we live. When everyone inside an organization is speaking the same language, then everyone is literally on the same page regarding the service they provide. You’re likely familiar with other companies’ common service languages. For example, Disney refers to its employees as “cast members.” At FedEx they say, “Our 48 || Business Business Climate Climate || 48

blood runs purple,” and at Ritz-Carlton they say, “Ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” These are all aspects of a common service language. The service language must be spoken by everyone—yes, including leaders. Remember Mr. Tan of NTUC? When he made his declaration, it was initially met with skepticism. Some middle managers weren’t using the new language, which centered on the phrase “Service Alive!” So Mr. Tan had them attend the service training classes employees were taking and he joined each class at the beginning and the end. Then, leaders launched a service improvement contest requiring managers to work closely with staff to implement what they learned. Soon the managers were saying, “We’ve got to work together using this language.” The results were tremendous. “Here’s the point: Leaders cannot delegate the implementation of a common service language,” says Kaufman. “Nor can your use of service language be mere lip service. You must demonstrate your understanding and commitment with observable and admirable actions. When service leaders speak and act, people listen and choose to follow.” Rule 4: Measure what really matters. When it comes to service, you can measure so many things: complaints, compliments, expectations, levels of engagement, relative importance, recent improvements, customer satisfaction, and so much more. And once you count, track, interview, survey, focus group, or mystery shop, then you can deduce, derive, deep-dive, and try to decide what to do about it all. No wonder people get confused. “You must focus everyone on the measures that matter more: the leading indicators of new ideas and value-creating action steps rather than the lagging indicators of share price, profits, or survey results,” says Kaufman. Let’s deconstruct his statement: At first glance, you might think your scores—customer satisfaction scores, loyalty scores, HCAHPS scores—are the best indicators that your service culture is improving. But you don’t measure those things every

day. So a more immediate indicator is compliments; when people are giving you good feedback internally and externally, you know your scores are headed north. But compliments aren’t leading indicators either. “In order to get those compliments, somebody has to come up with a new idea and take an action that’s not expected,” Kaufman explains. “They have to create an experience that will produce a compliment. So leaders need to ask, Are your actions creating value? and, Are you taking enough new actions? Then you need to measure what really matters from the bottom up: The new ideas for serving other people better lead to the new actions and the new learning about customer service and value that sparks these new ideas.” Rule 5: Empower your team. “Empowerment” is a buzzword in business, and in theory, we all understand that improved service is unlikely to happen inside or outside of an organization without it. Yet many leaders and employees seem to fear it. If a leader is not confident in her people, she doesn’t want to empower them with greater authority or a larger budget. And if an employee is not confident in his abilities and decisions, he often does not want the responsibility of being empowered. “In both cases, what’s missing is not empowerment, but the teaching, coaching, mentoring, and encouraging that must go with it,” notes Kaufman. “Empowering others in pursuit of uplifting service cannot and should not be decoupled from the responsibility to properly enable those you empower.” Another big part of empowerment is demystifying the fear that comes along with making a mistake, adds Kaufman. “Have a meeting and say, ‘We want learning from mistakes to be part of our culture,’” he advises. “Then, the leader says, ‘I’ll go first. Here’s the biggest mistake I made last week. Here’s what I learned from it. What can I learn from you?’ Then, everyone shares in that way, and boy does that make them feel safer. It gives them the freedom to take action.”

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Rule 6: Remove the roadblocks to better service. In the book Uplifting Service, Kaufman writes about an experience he had while dining at a luxury resort in California. The waiter explained that there was a special menu that night, spotlighting several of the chef’s signature dishes. But Kaufman’s guests were vegetarians and had nothing to choose from on the menu, and Kaufman himself had been craving a particular salmon salad. So they asked to order from the regular menu. Obviously uncomfortable, the waiter replied, “If you go back to your room and order room service, then you can order the salmon salad or anything else on [the room service] menu.” “In trying to spotlight the chef’s menu, the restaurant had created a major roadblock for the people who worked there—the waiter wasn’t given permission to serve!” points out Kaufman. “Like this waiter, most frontline staff members are taught to follow policies and procedures and are hesitant to ‘break the rules.’ Yet some rules should be broken, changed, or at least seriously bent from time to time. “What roadblocks to better service lurk

inside your organization?” he asks. “What prevents your people from taking better care of your customers? What stops them from helping their colleagues? Service leaders ask these questions and remove the roadblocks they uncover.” Rule 7: Sustain focus and enthusiasm. It’s not difficult to declare service a top priority. What’s challenging is keeping service top of mind when other issues clamor for attention. It’s not hard to use a new language for better service; what’s hard is using that language day after day until it becomes a habit. It may not be hard to track new service ideas and actions, but it can be difficult to keep your team focused on them. “Every day, distractions will pop up that will knock you and your employees off course,” says Kaufman. “Your people are going to get sand in their gears, and when that happens, it’s your job to keep them focused and enthusiastic. How do you do that? You find opportunities to educate. You recognize individual successes. You role model what needs to happen and then recognize when other people act as role

models. You acknowledge achievements. “This is not something leaders should view as a soft and therefore less important rule,” he adds. “In fact, overlooking Rule 7 could be the mistake that derails all your plans and programs. The sustained commitment to keep focus and enthusiasm high, to put these ideas into action, must come from you.” The best part about kicking off 2015 with a commitment to uplifting service? It’s fulfilling not just on a business level but also on a personal one. “The irony is that when you seek to improve life for others, you also improve your own life,” says Kaufman. “When you commit to empowering and being a role model for people in all levels of your organization, you make their jobs easier and more enjoyable. You make customers’ experiences more positive. And when those two things happen, you do, indeed, experience more fulfillment and less struggle as a leader. “Human beings really are designed to serve others,” he adds. “It brings us joy. And joy, I believe, is what we’re all seeking when we make our resolutions every year.”

Photo: Alan Cleaver || Business Business Climate Climate || 49 49

Northwest Florida's Business Climate January 2015  
Northwest Florida's Business Climate January 2015